On the night of Wednesday, 11th May, the annual Torchlight Procession in honour of Our Lady was held at Belmont Abbey. This was the 31st May Procession to be held at Belmont since the event started on the second Wednesday in May 1985. The very first to preach on that occasion was the late Fr Francis McKenna, while the second procession was led by Fr Antony Tumelty.
In 1987, at the suggestion of Abbot Alan Rees, it was decided to hold a torchlight procession, beginning at 9pm. Initially a celebration in honour of Our Lady for the pupils of the Abbey School, gradually more and more parishioners and friends joined in until it became the popular regional event we now witness every year with pilgrims of all ages coming to Belmont from the Dioceses of Birmingham, Cardiff, Clifton, Menevia, Shrewsbury and Wrexham and further afield.
This year around 600 pilgrims took part, led by Abbot Paul Stonham and the monks of Belmont. The preacher was the Prior, the Very Revd. Nicholas Wetz, and we were pleased to welcome Canon Peter Collins, Cathedral Dean, and Canon William Isaac of St Teilo’s, Whitchurch, joining us on the sanctuary. During the Procession, the Rosary was said and hymns to Our Lady sung. Once in the church, the celebration continued with readings, the homily, the Litany of Our Lady and more hymns, all well established favourites. The climax always comes with the dramatic showering of rose petals floating down on the statue of Our Lady of Fatima from the church tower, accompanied by the smoke of the incense and the intensity of love and devotion for our Blessed Mother in the resounding singing of the pilgrims.